If you think that being a beauty queen is all about stilettos, worrying about make-up and acting like a caricature of pageant winner, think again. Miss Universe Guam, Racine Manley, proves that a down-to-earth, hard-working, shy, curvaceous, brown-skinned Chamorro woman can wear the crown. In fact, we propose switching to a monarchy, just so she can be our Queen.
Words by Nate Denight
Art Direction by Jesus Viceñte | Photography by Mark Nicdao
Styling by Pam Quiñones | Makeup by Jigs Mayuga | Hair by Eddie Mar Caviltes
Location Fernbook Gardents, Las Piñas City, Philippines
How did you get started in pageants?
My first pageant was Miss Guam Tourism. It was either 2004 or 2005. In fact, Camille [Nate Denight’s sister] recruited me.
That’s right! Camille says she saw your long flowing hair at a soccer game and tracked you down at your work. How did you finish in the Tourism pageant?
I placed top five, which was fine for me cause I wasn’t ready to be Miss Tourism at that time. I was pretty young; straight out of high school.
So are you telling us that the prettiest girl doesn’t automatically win?
No, it takes a lot of preparation. When it comes down to it, the question and answer counts the most. So you could be the prettiest girl on the outside, but if you don’t have anything upstairs, your chances of placing become quite slim.
So what made you decide to run for Miss Universe Guam?
Well, the Miss Universe pageant is very prestigious and world renowned, and the winner gets to compete internationally. I did a lot of research on it and decided to give it a shot. Overall, it had to be the commitment in becoming involved in many community projects that impacted my decision. It was the thought of beauty for a cause that inspired me. But I almost dropped out at the last minute.
You were going to quit? Say it ain’t so.
Yeah, I wasn’t sure if this was really for me. I don’t consider myself to be the typical “girly girl”, and didn’t want to change to fit that image, that is, someone who I was not. I thought maybe there could’ve been someone better to represent the island, someone prettier, someone more intellectual, someone who was obviously a better public speaker than I was… In the end, the Lord blessed me with more than enough help. He gave me three wonderful coaches who invested so much time, money, and effort, all of which today I still could never possibly repay. They have really given me so much courage to fight and strive for what they knew I could do all along. Thank you Ron, Drew, and Marc.
How did your prepare for Miss Universe Guam?
I started in March and the competition was in May. So I was really focused on going to the gym with Marc in the early mornings, and making sure my eating was up to par. Almost every night and lunch time was Q & A at Drew’s home or at his store Mixed.
How did you practice for the Q&A part?
Yeah, I was constantly going over every possible question that might’ve been asked. All the preparation paid off because I felt comfortable up on stage and the words came out more smoothly than if I had not prepared.
So practice does make perfect. What was the final question?
It was something like “what would be your most important message to convey as Miss Universe?” My response was to preserve our cultural heritage for the reason that it is our identity as a whole. I felt that our cultural heritage is what truly defined us as a people and what really distinguished us from others.
Tell us about the Miss Universe pageant in the Bahamas. Sounds like tough work.
It took a lot of flying to get there, and I was there for about a month. In the beginning it was pretty rough with hectic schedules planned out from the early morning to late at night. There were so many photo shoots, and limelight moments. Staying in contact with family was beyond what I could afford and almost out of reach for a couple of weeks. I was beginning to wonder if I was in jail. As the days went [by], we finally got time to get to know the other girls and have some bonding time. I received letters of encouragement from my [friends] from Bank of Guam during my last week and it really helped to remind me that I was there representing everyone from our beautiful island.
We still find it hard to believe you didn’t win.
Well it’s tough because majority of the contestants who go out to compete have had a year’s worth of training. I only had about a month but knew that anything was possible.